14 days, from Tuesday, April 19, to Monday, May 2, 2022
A leisurely exploration of Central Italy, focusing on a trio of wonderful provinces, Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio, heartland of the civilization of the mysterious Etruscans, an enigmatic but highly civilized people who ruled Italy before the rise of Rome. Today, impressive architectural and cultural remains, exquisite bronze and stone sculptures as well as paintings, and fascinating weapons and artefacts bear witness to the grandeur of this civilization, treasures we will enjoy in marvelous hilltop towns such as Perugia, Fiesole, Volterra, and Tarquinia, and in superb Etruscan and other archeological museums in Rome and Florence. Your tour escort, historian Jacques Pauwels, will provide the indispensable historical background.
PLEASE NOTE THAT PARTICIPANTS WILL HAVE TO BOOK A FLIGHT ARRIVING IN ROME NO LATER THAN THE EARLY MORNING OF TUESDAY, APRIL 19.
FOR ONTARIO RESIDENTS AND OTHERS WISHING TO FLY FROM OR VIA TORONTO, WE RECOMMEND AIR CANADA’S NON-STOP SERVICE TORONTO-ROME (APRIL 18-MAY 2), FOR WHICH A RETURN AIRFARE (INCLUDING ONE SUITCASE) SHOULD BE AVAILABLE AT APPROXIMATELY $950. WE ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON SECURING A GROUP FLIGHT FOR THIS SERVICE, AND WILL SEND MORE INFORMATION WHEN AVAILABLE. PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS UNTIL THIS TOUR IS GUARANTEED TO BE OPERATED
Tour price, land only, based on double occupancy: Land Only $ 3,850 (CAD). Single room supplement: $685
Full-day excursion to another Umbrian urban jewel, Orvieto, situated high on a steep volcanic hill. An Etruscan centre in Antiquity and a Papal fortress-town in the Middle Ages, Orvieto is also known for its excellent wine and food, including truffles! We start with the most famous attraction, the Cathedral, boasting the finest Gothic façade in Italy, then move on to sites related to the Etruscan civilization, such as the Necropolis of Crocifisso and the Etruscan Museum with an important collection of Etruscan artefacts, including many specimens of the famous Etruscan black pottery, known as Bucchero. Afterwards there will be free time to explore this wonderful town on your own. If you are not claustrophobic and in reasonably good shape, you may want to visit the “underground city”, where olive and wine presses reflect the Etruscans’ interest in the production of wine and olive oil; other possibilities include a visit to the local museum of ceramics, another specialty of Orvieto, and the National Archaeological Museum. Return to Perugia in the early evening. No group dinner.
Departure from Perugia after breakfast. We cross into the province of Tuscany, meaning “land of the Etruscans,” a people called Tusci by the Romans, who also used Etruria as synonym of Tuscania. Visit to the glorious, almost mystical city of Siena, a veritable medieval time capsule with a huge Cathedral and a magnificent main square, the Piazza del Campo, dominated by the tall tower of the city hall, the Palazzo Pubblico; Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On into the vine-covered hills of the world-famous Chianti wine country, with a short break in the fortified hilltop village of Montereggioni. Dinner and overnight in the first-class/four-star agritourism-style hotel Villa Cesi in the hill just outside the town of Impruneta, near Florence.
Today we return to Florence, so those who have not yet been there may join the guide for a leisurely walking tour of the most important sites, such as the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. Or you may want to explore the city on your own and/or shop. Just in case you might want to (re)visit the Uffizi, it is closed on Mondays, so you would have to visit the previous day, foregoing part of the tour program. Return to our hotel in time for some dolce far niente and a Chianti wine tasting before dinner.
This morning we motor to another Tuscan UNESCO site, the great art city of Florence, world-famous for attractions such as the Duomo, the Baptistry, the Uffizi Art Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and Michelangelo’s David. But we will focus on the Archaeological Museum and its sumptuous collection of Etruscan treasures, including the famous “Chimera of Arezzo,” a bronze statue of an animal partly lion, partly goat, partly snake, and the statue of the Orator (l'Arringatore). Afterwards we head for neighbouring Fiesole, a flourishing Etruscan hilltop town long before the Romans founded Florence in the Arno river valley, a move that was part and parcel of their strategy to conquer and control the land of the Etruscans. Exploration of the Etruscan/Roman archaeological zone and visit to the small but exquisite museum. From Fiesole one can also enjoy wonderful views of Florence in the Arno valley below! Return to our hotel in late afternoon.
Excursion to Sovana and Pitigliano, two relatively isolated picturesque towns with plenty of Etruscan attractions, such as the temple-like funerary monument known as the Ildebranda Tomb. An almost mystic experience will be our leisurely exploration of a stretch of the “hollow roads” (vie cave), evocative deep, narrow, and winding corridors carved out of the area’s soft volcanic rock known as tuff (tufo), and overgrown with vegetation, linking the two towns since Etruscan times; historians debate whether they were communication routes or sacred paths used during funerary rites or ceremonies honouring Mother Earth.
After breakfast, we motor to the archaeological park of ancient Populonia, Pupluna to the Etruscans, nestled along the scenic shores of the Gulf of Baratti, near the seaport of Piombino. This was the Etruscans’ major metallurgical centre, where they processed iron ore from the island of Elba and from the nearby Monte Metalliferi, the “metal mountains” (more info on Etruscan metallurgy. In the afternoon, leisurely drive along the Maremma’s Costa d’Argento “Silver Coast,” including a visit to the peninsula known as Monte Argentario, connected to the Tuscan mainland by three spits of land forming two lagoons, with the town of Orbetello located in the centre. Return to our hotel in time for dinner.
After a short drive (50km) along the coast, we enter the province of Lazio (Latium in Latin). Here we will first visit Tarquinia, a town situated on a hill overlooking a fertile plain and the Tyrrhenian Sea, an important centre of the Etruscans but already inhabited by their precursors, the Villanovans. Our visit, certain to be one of the highlights of the tour, will focus on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the necropolis, whose tombs feature spectacular frescoes. On to Cerveteri, known as Caere in Antiquity, a great Etruscan cultural and religious centre, to explore a very different UNESCO-classified necropolis, known as Banditaccia, with fascinating tumulus-style architecture and paintings of animals, furniture, and all sort of other themes. Arrival at the four-star Hotel Mercure near Rome’s International Airport in Fiumicino in time for dinner.
Full-day excursion to nearby Rome, whose Etruscan origins (and even name) will be explained by your tour guide, for a visit focusing on the Villa Giulia Museum, unquestionably Italy’s most important collection of Etruscan (and other pre-Roman) antiquities, with many treasures found in necropolises and other sites visited on the tour, such as the famous “Bride and Groom” sarcophagus. Afterwards there will be free time to enjoy lunch and/or explore Rome on your own. Return to our hotel in the early evening. No group dinner this evening. Staying in Rome for dinner is a possibility, as there is a convenient and inexpensive train connection between the city and Fiumicino.
Contingency day. Depending on whether some sites will be closed for the May Day holiday, we may visit Lake Bracciano and the ancient Etruscan town of Veio with its Portonaccio Sanctuary and/or the magnificent, Pompeii-like ruins of Ostia Antica, the harbour of ancient Rome. Alternatively, we return to Rome to visit the Etruscan Museum, thus creating more time on Day 12. This evening, final group dinner.
Included in this “land only” price are transportation by private coach; accommodation based on double occupancy in first-class/four-star hotels; breakfast daily and dinner (or full lunch) daily except on day 12; sightseeing and visits as shown in the itinerary; all tips and taxes, including gratuities for local guides and coach driver(s); and services of a Pauwels Travel tour escort.
Not included are wine/mineral water with dinners and all items of a personal nature, and travel insurance. ** PLEASE NOTE: Although this “land only” price does not include airfare, Pauwels Travel is working on securing group fares on the direct Air Canada service (leaving April 18), which, once confirmed, will be offered to participants subject to the airline’s terms and conditions.
October 10 - 24, 2023
Tour price from Toronto: $5,295 CAD.
October 14 - 23, 2023
Land only: $3,485 CAD based on double occupancy
November 16 - 30, 2023
$8,895 including air based on double occupancy